The split routine is dead, it's the dawn of the full-body workout. A full-body workout does exactly what it says on the tin -- you work your whole body in each training session. While this goes against the traditional bodybuilding advice of only hitting one or two muscle groups per session, full bodies are far better for fat loss, fitness and definition, as they burn more calories and cause a far greater metabolism boost than split routines. So ditch your chest workouts, stop spending half an hour working your serratus anterior muscles and hit up a full-body workout instead.
The key to a successful full-body workout is getting your training frequency spot on. Full-body workouts are better than splits if you allow for enough recovery between sessions, claims Rachel Cosgrove, trainer and owner of Results Fitness. You don't want to be sore before you even start your workout, and getting pinned under a bench press in the middle of a packed gym because your muscles are fatigued might make you look a bit daft. Doing two to three full-body sessions per week is the best place to start, advises Marc Perry, author of the "Get Lean Guide."
In theory you could do a full-body workout based around isolation exercises like biceps curls, leg extensions, pec flyes and bench dips, but this would be next to useless. The whole point of full-body training is to get a sweat on and maximize calorie burn, so with this in mind you should choose more demanding multijoint movements. Think squats over leg presses, dumbbell rows instead of kickbacks and lunges rather than crunches. A good rule of thumb is the more you dread an exercise because of its difficulty, the better it is for you.
Number of Exercises
This is a tricky one, as the number of exercises you do is highly dependent on your fitness levels, what you want to achieve and how you're feeling on the day. If in doubt, pick six exercises, each in a different movement pattern. According to strength coach and powerlifter Nia Shanks, your six movement patterns are squat variation, deadlift variation, vertical push (shoulder press or barbell press), vertical pull (chinup or pulldown), horizontal push (bench press, dumbbell press or pushup), and horizontal pull (barbell or dumbbell row).
Sets, Reps and Progressions
The idea that to tone or burn fat you should train with light weights for high reps fell out of fashion around the same time as body part splits. Getting results is all about how hard you work, not the set or rep scheme you follow. Start off with three sets of eight to 10 reps on each exercise and aim to improve every session. This could mean doing an extra rep on every set, adding one whole set more per exercise, increasing the weight you're using or even resting less or using better form. Whatever you need to do to get better -- do it.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.